Repeated failures in recent times have forced the national selectors to drop Virender Sehwag and Irfan Pathan from the 15-member Indian team for the first two ODIs against the West Indies.
Sachin Tendulkar has been named the vice-captain for those two ODIs. Less surprisingly, Sourav Ganguly returns to the team after missing 41 ODIs since September 2005.
Karnataka’s Robin Uthappa and Haryana medium-pacer Joginder Sharma, who have excelled with the bat and ball, respectively, in the Ranji Trophy, have been rewarded by being named in both the lists.
Both Sehwag and Pathan have not been omitted from the list of 30 probables for the World Cup, as is the case with Mohammad Kaif and Dinesh Mongia.
Hyderabad’s VVS Laxman, who was flown in to South Africa after Rahul Dravid got injured, is also among the 30 probables, though not in the team to play the West Indies.
Yuvraj Singh, recovering from a knee injury, is among the probables for the World Cup, as is the young Mumbai prospect, middle-order batsman Rohit Sharma.
Yuvraj would be in the reckoning for the ODIs against Sri Lanka, beginning on February 8, if he is fully fit.
Addressing the press after a 110-minute selection meeting that was attended by Dravid and coach Greg Chappell, chief selector Dilip Vengsarkar said: “Sehwag has been out of form for a while. He has to go back to the nets and sort out his batting… This break will do him good, and I’m sure he will come back.”
On Ganguly’s comeback, Vengsarkar said: “His performance in One-dayers have been excellent, and he did well in the Tests in South Africa.”
On Pathan and Laxman, Vengsarkar said: “Irfan has been out of form… He has to bowl well and get wickets too. Laxman’s fielding is a problem with him as also his running between the wickets.”
Anil Kumble, named among the 30 probables for the World Cup, has been given a break for the first two ODIs against the West Indies and will be there for the third and fourth games.
Wicketkeeper Dinesh Karthik retains his place in the team and could continue playing only as a batsman.
The likely 15 for the World Cup would most probably figure in the four-match series against Sri Lanka, as Vengsarkar said: “There is not much chance to experiment. Winning is very, very important, and we have to pick the best combination for that.”
Lamenting the dearth of left-arm spinners in the country, Vengsarkar said he was forced to include Baroda’s Rajesh Pawar in the WC list. “Left-arm spin is a matter of concern… Rajesh has done well for Baroda, taken a lot of wickets, bats and fields well.”
The selectors will meet after the second ODI against the West Indies in Cuttack to pick the team for the third and fourth ODIs, to be played in Chennai (January 27) and Vadodara (January 31).